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Fair winds and following seas

August 25, 2008

Geography that can move around independently is an exotic creature and the creature I get to live on is a 158 ft. gaff topsail schooner. My bunk is behind the galley and is shaped like an abused rhombus and has no closet. Of course, I bring too many clothes. I get rid of all my furniture and most of my possessions go to my moms or grandmothers. I have to give back my cat, my pancake Sassafras to my ex-stepfather as the captain has told me I can only bring my cat if his dog Beau can eat it. And I will have to prepare it for slaughter. So, I give the cat back. It dies 6 months later and I know its my fault.

I feel good about the job although the budget of $300 a month to feed that many people, 10, seems kinda low. I decide to make pancakes with blueberries for breakfast and bacon and eggs and oatmeal with raisins. After breakfast the Captain, who, if you can imagine a horny old goat with a gold earring and white beard like Santa, proclaims, “Thank Neptune she can cook! Who knew? I was hoping you weren’t just pretty.”

I was both insulted and flattered which is a feeling that I am sadly familiar with. I tell him that the whole reason I know this boat and crew is because I used to cater brunches on it and have been cooking since I was 14 years old. I am now 19 and just came from being the private chef to my landlords and did private catering gigs on the side. I state that cooking is what I do. Sailing on the other hand, I have no experience in really.

For several weeks I sand and varnish and sand and varnish and sand and varnish. I coil rope and scrub metal of its rust. I paint stuff black and the side of the boat white. According to our Captain, there are only two colors to paint a boat, White or Black and only an asshole paints their boat black.

As you can imagine, our boat is white.

My hands are permanently cramped from hauling sails and in the morning I have to use a loose fist to turn off my alarm clock as I have to be up before everyone else to make breakfast at 7:30 am. I can’t make a real fist until about 11am each day and it makes holding a frying pan or knife very tricky. The muscles over my forearm, which are strong and built up on my right hand from chopping with a big heavy knife don’t really hold up under hoisting sails and making the rope fast. I learn quickly to do what I am told and where all the ropes are and how to use my weight and center of gravity to haul as heavy as the boys. By the middle of the summer I can put the staysail up by myself, into the wind. I delight in waiting for a drunken boy passenger to ask me if I ” need some help there little lady…” and give up some slack and step on the end and hand them the rope to watch it fly out of their hands and give them a nice rope burn.

Asshole. I can obviously do it myself.

I spend days outside and its gorgeous. I climb out onto the bowsprit and sleep in the hammock net and bounce on the waves. I have to take breaks from making bread to haul sails to get us underway and then run back to down to make dinner. I make bread twice a day and we never buy store bought. I have to make everything from scratch because we have no budget.

I make good friends with the boat dog Beau. When we have sunday morning sails and the other boat in the harbor shoots its cannons at us and we have giant waterballoon fights to the utter delight of all the passengers with the something of the Valkeries classical music blaring in the background, Beau, comes down to protect me and barks at the deck above while blocking me into the kitchen, protecting the source of food for our tribe. He is fuzzy and red and a chow mix with a black tongue.

I am the only girl on board and in my quest, my constant quest it seems, to fill the void left by my absent and gone daddy gone- Daddy, I meet the engineer and fall instantly in love with Andy. Well, in lust but its so strong and I feel so wild and adventurous it feels just like what I think love must be. Its like a fairy tale…we meet and fall in love and literally sail off into the sunset.

It takes me years and maybe its still not clear, how full of cliches-what a cliche my life and I am.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. recreatingmyself permalink
    August 25, 2008 11:09 pm

    You just write everything with such ease… at least I feel. 🙂

    I also think that we all end up thinking that our life is a cliche… at least I did till not long ago I was told that if I had not noticed what an exciting life I have had so far.

    I guess it has been, but I have gotten hurt along the way that maybe it would have been better to lead a dull, normal, boring, and common one. 😉

  2. August 25, 2008 11:45 pm

    Once again, I love your writing. I feel as if I could have been there with you… Cliche? I don’t think so… amazing, and graceful? You bet!

  3. tracyann permalink
    August 26, 2008 1:25 am

    No cliche there babe!! You are awesome and don’t forget it.
    xoxo

  4. August 28, 2008 12:30 pm

    I have read this blog probably a half dozen times now… Something about it has grabbed hold of me like a great piece of art… Thanks Chickida! This rocks.

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